[Audio] COLTS removes “God Bless America” from buses

No more of this nonsense…
Dave Kaczmarek, vice president of the Amalgamated Transit Union 168 representing COLTS, appeared on the Corbett show earlier today [click for audio] with some really interesting breaking news. The “God Bless America” message which previously appeared on COLTS buses has been removed in the heat of the controversy surrounding COLTS’ refusal of the NEPA Freethought Society’s really, really, really inoffensive “Atheists.” bus ads.
Kaczmarek didn’t elaborate too much on the issue, it seems, beyond what seems to be a fallacious appeal to tradition. Because the God Bless America messages has been on the COLTS’ buses for many years and no one had challenged the message, Kaczmarek seems to reason, the message is permissible. This is not a good argument. The “God Bless America” message also isn’t an issue of whether people are offended, but rather is an issue of whether entities receiving monies from state, county, and federal governments are permitted to display religious messages on buses.
Highlights from the clip:


Dave Kaczmarek

We have public relations signs on the bus. The public relation signs – they say anything from Happy Holidays to Merry Christmas to St. Patrick’s Day. Now, the other day, we always keep these public relations signs on. We have a gentleman that’s a driver and he’s a born-again Christian – a very Christian person. Every day he puts on his public relations sign [showing] God Bless America. Now, he was called in the other day and he was told that he is no longer allowed to put God Bless America on top of the public relations sign from here on out.


Had this driver ever asked permission to post that sign?

Dave Kaczmarek:

Well, it’s not a question of permission. It’s something that’s been done as long as we had those public relations signs. There’s never been an issue and then two days ago all of the sudden he was called in and told, ‘Look, people can find these offensive and you can no longer put God Bless America up on your sign from here on out.’ […] Obviously, [the driver’s] upset because he feels I have the right to free speech just as other people have the right to free speech. And COLTS’ policy, with their board of directors’ policy, is saying ‘Well, you’re employed here and we’re telling you that we do not want God Bless America on the top of our buses.’ But yet we live in America, we work in America, and we — whether you support this great country or not — from here on out you’re not allowed to say God Bless America because you’re going to offend the wrong people. […] This seems to all go coincide with each other now [sic]. When they rejected the atheist advertisement, all of the sudden we can’t put this God Bless America like we’ve been doing for all of these years.

Justin Vacula

Justin Vacula hosts the Stoic Philosophy Podcast; serves as co-organizer and spokesperson for the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Freethought Society; and has hosted monthly Stoic Philosophy discussion groups for the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia.

He has appeared on and hosted various radio shows and podcasts; participated in formal debates and discussions; was a guest speaker for college-level courses; was featured in local, national, and international news; and has been invited to speak at various national, local, and statewide events.

Vacula received bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology, a minor in Professional Writing, and the distinguished W.A. Kilburn Memorial Award for Philosophy from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He is currently living in the Scranton, PA area attending Marywood University’s graduate-level Mental Health Counseling program and has worked with the Arc of Luzerne County’s Transition to Community Employment program as a teacher’s assistant and job coach alongside adult learners with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

He also plays poker; volunteers as a member of the website and media team for the Greyhawk Reborn Dungeons & Dragons campaign while playing at events in the Eastern United States; and enjoys metal music.